(FM20) FK Haugesund 2020 Season Review – Fixing my mistakes….slowly

Remember when I said I was going to slow down playing FM this year? Well that didn’t go well! Yes I’ve had some free time off work and my daughter being at school/wife at work has helped, but I just haven’t been able to put this save down! Are you saying I’m addicted? Maybe you’re right! Anyway, enough of that! Welcome back to my second season review post! Wow this week has gone quick, this save has got a hold of me!!!! So the season’s over, it’s been another good season, results wise – spot on, performance wise…..hmmmmm! All will be revealed!

Transfers

Let’s dive straight in shall we?

Transfer’s in, quite a few. We needed to replace the loanees that left and also Gostomski (GK) and Grindheim (CM) who left after their contracts expired. So let’s take a look.

Alex Craninx – Goalkeeper – £150k from Molde

I’d had my eye on this fella for a while, a massive improvement on what we had before. He will be my first choice goalie.

Olav Øby – Winger – £38.5k from Kristiansund

Wingers were needed. Samuelsen had gone, we had also sold Sixten Jensen (we signed him last year), he went for £53k to Falkenberg. He was rubbish! Øby looks decent although he isn’t rated highly, he is also versatile, which will come in handy as the 25-man rule make our squad very tight.

Kristoffer Ødemarksbakken – Winger – £125k from Lillestrøm

Another winger, and another one I’d be watching for a while. Quality attributes all over the place and has some great PPMs to play as an IF/IW.

Sepp van den Berg – Central Defender – Season long loan from Liverpool

With three CBs who all expected to play I didn’t want to break the bank for another CB so I decided to go the loan route. VDB as I’m gonna call him looks brilliant, he will be back up but knowing how injury prone my CBs are he may well get a few games.

They were the 4 players to join pre-season. Then in the mid-season window I brought some more in…

Martin Samuelsen – Winger – Season long loan from West Ham

The main man returns! Yes another winger, the two above had played OK to be honest but we were still short. Wadji had returned from his ban but was nowhere near his sharpest. Samuelsen would hopefully give us that push for the end of the season.

Andrea Accardi – Right Back – Free transfer from Palermo

An absolute coup, Accardi came up as out of contract (6 months prior) and I had to get him. Desler is my No.1 RB but I felt at some point he was too attacking, Accardi gives us much more solidity when needed.

Oliver Berg – £32.5k from Sundvall

The board did not like this one! They felt he wasn’t good enough. With some of my young CMs complaining for lack of game time I decided to send them out on loan. Berg was there, he was cheap and he will do a good back-up job!

So that’s the transfers in, the only out was Sixten Jensen, the less said about him the better.

Now let’s see how the season went.

A nice surprise, I didn’t expect a Super Cup. And my word did it go well. We faced last years champs Brann and although the stats showed they had the better of the game, we were a lot more clinical.

The scoreline shows a hammering, it really wasn’t that easy! My second trophy in just over a season. What a start to the season!

My first proper failure as Haugesund manager. They wanted 4th qualifying round and so did I. The draw was incredibly unkind. Genk’s highest value player was worth more than my team…..twice over!

We gave a good showing and nearly shocked them but in the end we were knocked out by the solitary goal. The board are disappointed, I just hope they understand the loss was to a much higher opposition.

This will go down as one hell of a run! We won it last year and my word we did well again!

The lottery of the draw hated us, round 1 and 2 fine, nice and easy, round 3, easy on paper, scraped through thanks to the main man Fred Friday in extra time.

Then came the hard draws, round 4 – Rosenborg, WE BLOODY BEAT THEM! I’m not sure how to be fair, but we did!

Quarters – Brann, and that man Fred Friday put us through with the winner just after half-time.

The semi’s – Molde, will this get any easier!!! Again we scraped through on penalties, they missed their first 3, we scored our first 3……nice and easy!

So we’re into the final and we get to play FK Bodø/Glimt. Another tough game and with many suspensions I was worried. The game itself was boooooooring, proper snooze fest until Fred Friday grabs the ball 30 yards out, swerves past one, past two, and he’s in, the keeper comes out, GOOOOOAAAALLLLL! 1-0 Haugesund.

Now bloody defend (more on defending later). Defend, defend, post, off the line. Then the whistle goes, BACK TO BACK CUP WINS!! After a tough season this was the perfect end!

Just call me the master of knockout football!

Now to the league and I won’t say much about this. It started great, 4 wins in the first 5 then once again the inconsistencies started to show. Injuries, suspensions all didn’t help but it was the performances that were the most frustrating. Leaking goals, early goals, not being clinical. Anyway, as the season drew to a close we sat 6th with 6 games to go knowing we had a tough run ahead we had to turn it around to just scrape top 4. The final 6 games were monumental, 5 wins, 1 defeat including this hammering of champs Rosenborg

Somehow we had managed 4th place even though for long parts of the season we were looking more mid-table.

So season over and I’m not gonna lie through all the success it’s been one of the toughest, most frustrating seasons I’ve had on FM. Results wise – brilliant, performance wise – shocking. But who has been our best players I hear you ask?

Star Men

The player of the season went to Left Back Alexander Stolas, now I felt he was poor, but then I realised he was one of only 7 players to average over 7! Add his 8 penalties (10 goals overall) and now you can see why he won it! He also won the League Player of the Year ticking off my 2nd Achievement in that challenge.

Super Striker Fred Friday once again ended up as top scorer with 17 goals, he was the polar opposite to last year scoring nearly all his goals in the first half of the season before forgetting where the net was!

And here for your viewing pleasure if the whole squad. Not many green average ratings there!

So a great season results wise, Super cup and Norwegian cup won, one place higher in the league, but I still feel somewhat underwhelmed. Watching the games we just haven’t been good enough.

So what? I hear you say. Yes I agree but I still want us to be exciting, I feel we have been lucky this season. The cup was great but the league we could’ve done so much better. So where do the issues lie? Let’s take a look at a couple of things I found:

Issue One: Early Goals

The bain of my life! I lost count of the games where we conceded in the first 15 minutes. As the season progressed I did counter it in some ways but I still feel something was wrong.

The above graphic shows you the goal times where we conceded over the 40 competitive games we played this season. Just under 30% of our 34 goals conceded came in the first 15 minutes and just under 50% of those in the first 30 minutes. So why was this happening? Honestly at the time I didn’t know! I actually put a Tweet out asking what people would do in this situation, I got some great answers back.

The main one was to drop mentality at the start of games, also to maybe play a little less aggressively, a bit more cautious and a bit more patient. The pie chart above is the whole season but in the final 10 games I switched it about and we conceded a lot less in general. 6 goals conceded in 10 games and only 1 of those in first 15 minutes.

How did I do this? Well I dropped the mentality from positive to balanced. I also changed the WB(s) to FB(s) and shortened the passing and lowered the tempo. Team talks also seemed to help, I told them I had faith in them instead of letting my ass man deal with it.

Issue Two: Full backs

Oh man full backs! If only they played like full backs! Playing a 41221 formation I felt they could do both defending and attacking but what I failed to get was them defending. So many times we conceded from out wide! So why was this?

The above pie chart shows the assist locations of goals conceded in the 40 competitive games, there were only 30 assists to goals in those matches and 40% (YES 40%) of those goals were due to crosses!! That is crazy! So I decided to go back and look at some of these goals.

Below is one of these games, we are playing Tromso away and this is the 6th minute.

The balls been cleared by my left sided CB and it’s picked up by Tromso in the midfield, firstly he has so much space it’s untrue! The shape is OK but one thing is glaring. My wide forwards, especially the right sided player is so high up leaving RB Desler (No. 8) exposed.

Three passes later and this is where we are:

A ball over Desler and Nilsen has a run at him. With no help Nilsen takes it to by-line plays it in to their striker, he gets in between my two CBs and scores.

So for me there are two problems, firstly my right sided forward is nowhere near being able to help and secondly my midfield needed to close it down quicker. This is still a work in progress but playing a bit higher up and also closing down quicker seems to be stopping this.

Another issue I found with my full backs are both of my first choice players have “Likes to get further forward” trait which when we get the ball is leaving gaping holes left and right of my centre backs. I could retrain them or I could have extra defensive cover by adding a third CB. Something to think about.

Issue Three: Star players failing

If you are beady eyes and have looked at the squad overview for the season you will see my players who last year excelled have been so poor this season. Leite (my star from last season), had a shocker of a season, 37 games, 3 goals and 6.82 average rating, this is down from 10 goals in 31 games with 7.12 last season.

Desler, last seasons player of the year 30 games, 1 goal, no assists, 6.99 ave rating, last season 32 games, 12 assists, 7.29 ave rating.

Really poor and incredibly concerning. Are they faltering as they just aren’t good enough? Or have they just had a poor one-off season? I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt but they may need a chat to kick them in the arse, if they don’t up their game they will need to be replaced.

Anyway, enough of the problems. Let’s look ahead.

Next Season

So a third straight season of European football ahead and this is the season we need to improve. 4th in the league was great but we need to be challenging the top now. The cup has been won twice in a row and this will take a back seat this season (as long we achieve the club vision set).

The big issue at the moment is finances, we are losing £250k per month, wages are too high in both players and staff and need to be reduced. The poor finances are reflected in the budgets.

£10k p/wk extra in wages. Seems a bit mad to be honest, and hardly any transfer money. Sales are needed before anyone major comes in.

In other news I have a new contract. This is massive as at one point the board were pissed at me for going out the Europa League early and with my contract expiring there was a genuine worry I’d either be sacked or not offered a new deal. This came in with 4 weeks of the season to go!

The club vision has also changed, Europe is different as we are now in the Europa League II. Our nation co-efficient has dropped meaning we now have no teams in the main Europa League. The vision currently states nothing about the cup or how they want us to do in Europe but they expect us next season to Qualify for Europe through the league which is Top 4.

So there we are, a good season, a tough season but it’s been great fun! I hope you enjoyed the read, it’s been a long one I know but I am so enjoying playing and writing this save I couldn’t help myself!

Anyway enough rambling! Thanks for reading

Lutterworth Fox/Steve